File photo: Rajnath Singh. Photograph:( ANI )
Singh's statement comes in the wake of abrogation of Article 370
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said that India follows "no first use" policy regarding nuclear weapons but said what would happen in future will depend on "circumstances".
"On the question of nuclear policy, till today, we have a policy of no-first-use. What happens in future, will depend on circumstances," he said after paying homage to late prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Pokhran in Rajasthan where the country conducted its second nuclear tests during the regime of the NDA government in 1998.
"In Pokhran, India emerged as a nuclear power. Despite all restraints, Atalji gave permission for the nuclear test. India was listed among those countries which have nuclear power. I paid homage to Atalji on his first death anniversary here," Singh said.
He also posted a tweet reiterating his statement.
Pokhran is the area which witnessed Atal Ji’s firm resolve to make India a nuclear power and yet remain firmly committed to the doctrine of ‘No First Use’. India has strictly adhered to this doctrine. What happens in future depends on the circumstances.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) August 16, 2019
The nuclear test was conducted in May, 1998, in Pokhran during the Vajpayee government and the "no first use" policy was enunicated by him. The policy in India's nuclear doctrine meant the country will not to use its nuclear weapon as a means of warfare unless attacked by an adversary using nuclear weapons.
Singh's statement comes in the wake of abrogation of Article 370. Pakistan has shown its hostility towards India's action, raising it with the United Nations (UN) on the international level. It has, however, dealt a diplomatic setback with the UN Security Council declining to hold a formal session on Kashmir with its participation.
The UNSC has, instead, scheduled a closed-door consultation at China's insistence. The consultation will take place on Friday evening.
Pakistan does not have a "no first use" policy. The country also went nuclear immediately after India conducted its tests. Pakistan in fact has used its nuclear assets as a blackmail tool that any aggression on part of India would lead to full scale war.
India, on past two occasions, has been able to call off its neighbour's nuclear bluff by organising two surgical strikes inside Pakistan. The Balakot involved use of Air Force which was first by India after 1971 war. The only time India used Air Force was during the Kargil War, but that too, in a limited capacity. Singh's statement is full of significance and any move of India in the context is akin to completely re-calibrating the nuclear doctrine.